The climate-change activists behind the museum attacks


Protestors throw soup at Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” in an attempt to spread awareness of global warming. Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Maria L. Guerrero Duran, Web Editor

Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series on the reasoning and the impact of climate change protests through attacks on art.
Recently, videos of protesters throwing paint at artworks and gluing themselves to the walls of museums have been circulating around social media gaining millions of views. The minds behind these protests are those from the coalition “Just Stop Oil.”
According to their website,, the coalition is seeking to have the UK government end all licenses and consents for the use of fossil fuels in the UK. Despite the noble cause of the protests, the movement has raised harsh criticism not only around the art aficionados, but the general public.
The coalition has been protesting throughout the entire month of October with the slogan “Occupy Westminster.” Not only are they protesting at art museums, but they also blocked several roads around London, defied gravity by climbing the QE2 Bridge, threw soup at the government building and spray-painted high-end buildings.
The video that went viral was of two young protesters at the National Gallery throwing soup over Vincent Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers.”
“What is worth more? Art or life? Is it worth more than food? Worth more than justice?” said Phoebe Plummer, 21-year-old in the video.
One of the few arguments people have said in response to these protests is, “why are they attacking the paintings? What’s the point?”
An article by the New York Times says protesters tried blocking oil terminals, but they didn’t get enough coverage, not until they started attacking museums.
“Are you more concerned about the protection of a painting or the protection of our planet and people?” Plummer said. “The cost-of-living crisis is part of the cost of oil crisis. Millions of people are dying in Monsoon wildfires and severe drought. We cannot afford new oil and gas. It’s going to take everything we know in life.”
In response to the on-going protests, the UK passed a new bill that targets “criminal, disruptive and self-defeating guerrilla tactics.”
According to The Guardian, this bill was specifically passed to aim at groups such as Just Stop Oil and Insulate Britain. However, no statements from the government have been made on whether they will stop the new license to explore for oil and gas in the North Sea.
The same article by the Guardian shared a statement by Cameron Ford, Just Stop Oil spokesperson.
“Until they put the death sentence as the repercussions for what we’re doing, it won’t deter us,” Ford said.
While the protests around the UK spread to the rest of Europe, we can rest assured that the historic paintings were not harmed, since they are all encased in protective glass.
Maria L. Guerrero Duran is the web and copy editor and may be reached at [email protected]; @bymariaguerrero on Instagram and Twitter.